There is a fault line in Canada’s innovation capacity that is often overlooked by policy makers and yet is a contributing factor to this country’s lagging performance in global innovation competitiveness. This gap relates to weak intellectual property (IP) literacy among Canadian innovators and their inability to access affordable and timely IP legal services, including IP strategic advice, especially at the earliest stages of the business venture. This results in underdeveloped or non-existent IP commercialization strategies that inhibit — or, indeed, entirely undermine — business growth, scale-up and global competitiveness. In order to shore up Canada’s overall performance, more attention needs to be paid to capacity building in three interrelated areas:
- raising the literacy levels among innovative IP start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the basics of IP law and IP strategy;
- ensuring that IP start-ups have meaningful access to affordable IP legal services at the earliest stages of the business venture; and
- building greater capacity in IP strategy expertise among IP lawyers and the other intermediaries who support IP start-ups.
This report offers a number of solutions to address each of these weaknesses.